Nottingham academic plays part in world first air quality standard

Nottingham academic plays part in world first air quality standard

A University of Nottingham academic has played an instrumental role in the creation of a standard that empowers building owners, operators, and professionals to proactively protect indoor environments as we enter the winter virus season. 

ASHRAE, leader in the development of guidance for safeguarding public health, has created Standard 241, which establishes minimum requirements to reduce the risk of airborne aerosol transmissions, which cause viruses like flu or Covid-19, and other bacteria in buildings.

Ben Jones, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Engineering, alongside research fellow Chris Iddon, were selected out of more than a hundred applicants from across the world to work on the modelling and underpinning of the standard that will help design the places of tomorrow.

Ben said: “Standard 241 tells building operators how much clean air they should deliver to control infectious aerosols, and we are the people behind those numbers. We made tens of thousands of calculations using a mathematical model of infection risk that considers how many people there might be in a building, how much virus they may collectively emit and, therefore, how much virus uninfected occupants might inhale.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve used this type of model, having supported the UK government, Chartered Institution of Building Service Engineers, and the Chilean Government during the pandemic. However, to be involved in the creation of the first standard of its kind that’s going to help solve real world challenges is something I’m incredibly proud of.”

The standard was commissioned by the White House and completed in just 116 days using a process that would usually take around four years. It provides comprehensive guidance for systems that control the spread of infectious aerosols and recommendations for ventilation rates, filtration, and air cleaning technology, as well as a building readiness plan that documents procedures for assessing existing or new HVAC systems to ensure they’re working effectively.

In a press release issued about Standard 241, 2023-23 ASHRAE’s Ginger Scoggins, stated: “The importance of improved indoor air quality and ventilation became topics of mainstream concern during the pandemic and ASHRAE remained committed to prioritising the health and well-being of building occupants. Standard 241 is a blueprint for building designers, owners, and operators with long-term benefits.

With winter virus season approaching, mitigating the spread of airborne infections will be of even greater importance and incorporating the guidance in Standard 241 can be a major step forward in addressing clean air flow goals.”

For more information on ASHRAE Standard 241, including related resources, click here.

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